… “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
~ Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
A Spanish father and son were estranged. The father later went to search for his son. When he could not find him, the father put this ad in the Madrid newspaper:
“Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.”
Saturday noon, 800 Pacos showed up at the office looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful actions that Christians can perform. The world does not understand the ability or reasons to do this because it is most unnatural in a dog-eat-dog world. There is also pain to be overcome because behind every act of forgiveness lies the wound of betrayal; but there is far more pain and emotional, social, physical damage done when we do not forgive.
An Asian Christian apologist says, “If I am asked what separates Christianity from other religions, or what’s different about Christianity, aren’t all religions the same when you get down to it?’ one of the first things that I would say is bound up in this one beautiful word: forgiveness.”
Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother who sins against him. He thinks he is magnanimous and suggests seven times! Jesus makes his famous reply, “…not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22).
Jesus then shares a parable about a man who, after much pleading for mercy, was forgiven for much and yet would not forgive another person who owed him little. In the parable, the master throws the man into jail to be tortured until he pays back his large debt. Then comes the conclusion: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).
RESPONSE: Today I will forgive others who hurt me because God has commanded it and because my own forgiveness depends on it.
PRAYER: Lord, give me a spirit of forgiveness toward others who hurt me, just as You have forgiven me.